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THE FIRST CAMPAIGN by Garrett M. Graff

THE FIRST CAMPAIGN

Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House

By Garrett M. Graff

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-15503-2
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Having invented most modern technology, including the Internet, the United States is walking blind and backwards into the future, argues a former Howard Dean webmaster and current Washingtonian editor.

Ardent tech-evangelist Graff offers an incisive and fairly persuasive text laying out the reasons why the 2008 presidential campaign will not only be extraordinarily important, but unlike any ever seen before. New technologies have reshaped not only the electoral scene but the fabric of everyday life, and 2008 is the first time in a half-century that neither party has a sitting executive to nominate. Therefore, writes the author, “the first campaign of a new era is upon us.” Given his background, it’s not surprising that the author focuses heavily on the importance of Internet technology. Although there are times when he comes off as just another e-cheerleader from the golden days of the dot-com boom, Graff is realistic enough in his acknowledgement that no matter how web-savvy a candidate may be, if there’s no message to deliver, voters won’t care: “The candidate who best understands that the internet isn’t an end to itself but merely a means to an end—a chance to pull people in and get them involved in the political process—will triumph.” Some of the most interesting sections lay out the tough issues the country faces (everything from globalization to climate change), making the case that 2008 and the following decade may well be the last chance “to make changes and address those looming challenges before they begin to become truly painful.” Graff is mostly hopeful, though he paints a bleak picture of lagging educational standards and politicians so woefully out of step with the times that as recently as 2001, Sen. Dianne Feinstein was quoted saying, “I don’t believe the Senate should be on the internet until we get rid of pedophilia and pornography.”

A smart handbook for the politically plugged-in.